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Western Digital to End Support for Prior Generations of My Cloud OS

Western Digital to End Support for Prior Generations of My Cloud OS

Western Digital to End Support for Prior Generations of My Cloud OS 1

Western Digital (WD) has announced that following a series of vulnerabilities and security risks earlier this year, the company will drop support for any device not on its most recent operating system, only allowing them to receive local access.

In early June, Western Digital My Book Live devices were hit by a widespread attack that targeted a vulnerability in the software and allowed those with malicious intent to remotely access and wipe the data of the connected devices. The vulnerability was later discovered to be a “zero-day exploit,” which means it was a problem that existed in the devices from the moment they were sold.

A week later, a report found that Western Digital products running My Cloud OS 3 also had a zero-day vulnerability that the company said it would not address, and only would be fixed by upgrading to OS 5.

In a new a note to customers of affected devices, Western Digital says that as it has evaluated its hardware and as security standards evolve, it has determined that it is necessary for it to end support for prior generations of My Cloud OS entirely, which includes My Cloud OS 3 and My Cloud OS 2. As a note, there is no My Cloud OS 4.

Starting on January 15, 2022, the company says that devices that are compatible with OS 5 will no longer support prior generations of My Cloud OS, including My Cloud OS 3. WD says that anyone who wants to retain remote access to My Cloud drives will need to upgrade those devices to My Cloud OS 5 “now.”

For those who have legacy, My Cloud OS 3 devices that cannot be upgraded to OS 5, WD has said that they will simply be unable to access them remotely. This will take effect on April 15, 2022.

“There are critical security updates that are only available for My Cloud OS 5-compatible devices. If your device isn’t compatible with My Cloud OS 5, you’ll only be able to access it locally,” the company says. “After April 15, 2022, your device will no longer receive remote access, security updates, or technical support. To help protect your content, we recommend that you back up your device, disconnect it from the internet, and protect it with a strong, unique password.”

WD has set up a web page that shows which My Cloud devices are compatible with the My Cloud OS 5 update.

The company seems to understand that this move is bound to upset some customers, and “to make it easier” on them, is sending a 20% discount coupon to customers who own devices that are not compatible with an upgrade.

“We’ll send the coupon through email in January 2022,” the company writes. “You won’t need to return your current device, and the code will be good for 90 days.”

WD’s product lifecycle support policy states that devices will be covered for up to eight years after they have been released, and nine years after a product has been made available, the company reserves the right to discontinue all updates including critical software and security updates. WD may also discontinue cloud service support for a product in this phase. If a product feature depends on cloud services to function, that functionality will end.

If a product is still under warranty, WD says that it will still honor all valid claims. A full list of affected devices and upgrade options that are available is provided on WD’s website.

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Photographing Zanskar, an Untouched Region in the Western Himalayas

Zanskar region in the western Himalayas

Zanskar region in the western Himalayas

An amateur photographer wanted to showcase the picturesque potential of a lesser-known region along the western part of the Himalayas through a body of work that highlights the grand beauty of the area.

Tanay Das, based in India, works for Amazon and pursues landscape photography as a hobby. It was only in 2018 that Das got his first camera, a Nikon D5500 which he says he is still learning how to use at its full potential.

In 2019 while watching a YouTube Vlog, Das heard about the lands of Zanskar, an area in the western part of the Himalayas known as the Ladakh region. While beautiful, he says that it hasn’t been widely visited or photographed by landscape photographers.

Zanskar region in the western HimalayasZanskar region in the western HimalayasZanskar region in the western HimalayasZanskar region in the western Himalayas

Das made contact with landscape photography company Thescape which offers photography and filmmaking services, workshops, and tours. The company invited Das to photograph the area and join a 15-day long mountain tour.

Zanskar region in the western Himalayas

Because of the COVID-19 disruption, Das hadn’t been able to pursue many of his planned photography trips. This meant that by the time the tour date rolled around, it was his first time capturing the western part of the Himalayas.

Zanskar region in the western Himalayas

During the preparations for the trip, Das packed his Nikon D5500 and a choice of three lenses — Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-f/5.6, and the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-/f/6.3.

Zanskar region in the western Himalayas

The experience of camping and shooting in such an untouched natural region was particularly memorable for Das, which he says is hard to describe and left him speechless during much of the experience.

Zanskar region in the western Himalayas

“The primary reason could be how raw nature actually is,” he says. “The place where we were standing was more than 14,500-feet high. Standing at that kind of altitude in the middle of the night and seeing the cosmos is something absolutely mindblowing and leaves a deep impact on you.”

Zanskar region in the western Himalayas

Following his experiences in Zanskar, Das is currently working on a project with Thescape to bring out the best of the Indian Himalayas through tours across the region. Das follows the motto of “travel, learn, and share” and hopes to inspire people to photography the beauty of the area.

More of Das’s landscape photographs can be found on his Instagram page.


Image credits: All images by Tanay Das and used with permission.

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topsyrm’s latest blog : 52 for 2021 week 41 ugborough and western beacons

149719_1634458652.jpg

52 for 2021 Week 41 Ugborough and Western Beacons

17 Oct 2021 9:40AM  
Views : 341
Unique : 206

This week joined by Mrs T I went in search of Dartmoor’s southernmost Tor which some say is Ugborough Beacon but Western Beacon is almost as high and is further south. A quick Google finds both “Wikipedia” and “Tors of Dartmoor” listing Western Beacon as the southernmost hill (Wiki) Tor (Tors of Dartmoor). Furthering the confusion is that in the Dartmoor 365 Book by John Hayward he states that Ugborough Beacon is the southernmost Tor and that Western Beacon isn’t formally a Tor (but he does say that it is the southernmost hill) also in the Dartmoor Tors pocket guide by Janet and Ossie Palmer the Gazetteer of Dartmoor Tors only lists Ugborough Beacon. ??

Ugborough Beacon.

149719_1634458652.jpg

Western Beacon.

149719_1634458689.jpg

Our walk started below Western Beacon but I had seen a disused Quarry marked on the map so we went to have a look at that before setting off up Western Beacon. It turned out to be a lot less of a Quarry than I had expected.

149719_1634458720.jpg

On the way to the “Quarry” we passed what appeared to be an old bridge long since disused/derelicted. Had we not got a long hike ahead of us I would have liked to go down to explore it but it will have to wait for another visit.

149719_1634458755.jpg

We had more pressing matters (the beacons) so we went back to the Moor Gate and headed up Western Beacon.

149719_1634458775.jpg

On the way up the first slopes we could see the rather quaint looking Mooraven Village.

149719_1634458802.jpg

Western Beacon itself has been quarried but that isn’t evident from the map.

149719_1634458825.jpg

It also has a rather odd group of rock piles on the Cairn.

149719_1634458851.jpg

149719_1634458871.jpg

149719_1634458885.jpg

Once over Western Beacon we headed for Butterdon Hill which is also further south than Ugborough Beacon and is also known as Black Tor by some.

149719_1634458922.jpg

The Stone Row points the way which takes you past the “Longstone” beside Black Pool (not the seaside town). This view looking back towards Western Beacon.

149719_1634458947.jpg

On Butterdon Hill there is a Trig Point and from that point we could see across to Ugborough Beacon.

149719_1634459428.jpg

But sadly looking to the West we could also see the scar of the Clayworks at Lee Mill.

149719_1634459454.jpg

From here we could see Hangershell Rock, this was not on the original route plan but we decided to go over and have a look.

149719_1634459502.jpg

Once at the Hangershell Rocks we took time out to have lunch in the lee of the rocks.

149719_1634459544.jpg

From our lunch spot we could see across to Tristis Rock which is on my list of sites to visit but not for this trip, it sits on the opposite bank of the River Erme and needs to be approached from that side. Another day.

149719_1634459591.jpg

As we moved away towards Ugborough Beacon looking back we could see all the way to Plymouth Sound.

149719_1634459626.jpg

We made our way towards Ugborough Beacon.

149719_1634459658.jpg

Passing Main Head which is the start of the spring/stream.

149719_1634459682.jpg

Ugborough Beacon isn’t the biggest Tor I have visited but it does have some interesting rock formations.

149719_1634459725.jpg

And some nice views.

149719_1634459755.jpg

I spotted a Kestrel out looking for lunch, I managed to get a shot but I really don’t have the right kit for these kinds of shots (I’m a landscaper not a wildlifer).

149719_1634459778.jpg

Anyway, it was now time to head off back to the car.

149719_1634459804.jpg

On the way back we saw some curious things, this water hole seemed to be a natural drain for the rainwater into the stream below.

149719_1634459829.jpg

We also passed this derelict building, not sure what it used to be though.

149719_1634459860.jpg

Finally we got back to the Moor Gate and the car.

149719_1634459886.jpg

We did see some Ponies on this trip though.

149719_1634459924.jpg

149719_1634459938.jpg

That’s all for this week folks. As always, comments welcome.

Tags:
Dartmoor
Ponies
Landscape and travel
Photowalk
Ugborough Devon

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topsyrm’s latest blog : 52 for 2021 week 41 ugborough and western beacons

149719_1634458652.jpg

52 for 2021 Week 41 Ugborough and Western Beacons

17 Oct 2021 9:40AM  
Views : 57
Unique : 49

This week joined by Mrs T I went in search of Dartmoor’s southernmost Tor which some say is Ugborough Beacon but Western Beacon is almost as high and is further south. A quick Google finds both “Wikipedia” and “Tors of Dartmoor” listing Western Beacon as the southernmost hill (Wiki) Tor (Tors of Dartmoor). Furthering the confusion is that in the Dartmoor 365 Book by John Hayward he states that Ugborough Beacon is the southernmost Tor and that Western Beacon isn’t formally a Tor (but he does say that it is the southernmost hill) also in the Dartmoor Tors pocket guide by Janet and Ossie Palmer the Gazetteer of Dartmoor Tors only lists Ugborough Beacon. ??

Ugborough Beacon.

149719_1634458652.jpg

Western Beacon.

149719_1634458689.jpg

Our walk started below Western Beacon but I had seen a disused Quarry marked on the map so we went to have a look at that before setting off up Western Beacon. It turned out to be a lot less of a Quarry than I had expected.

149719_1634458720.jpg

On the way to the “Quarry” we passed what appeared to be an old bridge long since disused/derelicted. Had we not got a long hike ahead of us I would have liked to go down to explore it but it will have to wait for another visit.

149719_1634458755.jpg

We had more pressing matters (the beacons) so we went back to the Moor Gate and headed up Western Beacon.

149719_1634458775.jpg

On the way up the first slopes we could see the rather quaint looking Mooraven Village.

149719_1634458802.jpg

Western Beacon itself has been quarried but that isn’t evident from the map.

149719_1634458825.jpg

It also has a rather odd group of rock piles on the Cairn.

149719_1634458851.jpg

149719_1634458871.jpg

149719_1634458885.jpg

Once over Western Beacon we headed for Butterdon Hill which is also further south than Ugborough Beacon and is also known as Black Tor by some.

149719_1634458922.jpg

The Stone Row points the way which takes you past the “Longstone” beside Black Pool (not the seaside town). This view looking back towards Western Beacon.

149719_1634458947.jpg

On Butterdon Hill there is a Trig Point and from that point we could see across to Ugborough Beacon.

149719_1634459428.jpg

But sadly looking to the West we could also see the scar of the Clayworks at Lee Mill.

149719_1634459454.jpg

From here we could see Hangershell Rock, this was not on the original route plan but we decided to go over and have a look.

149719_1634459502.jpg

Once at the Hangershell Rocks we took time out to have lunch in the lee of the rocks.

149719_1634459544.jpg

From our lunch spot we could see across to Tristis Rock which is on my list of sites to visit but not for this trip, it sits on the opposite bank of the River Erme and needs to be approached from that side. Another day.

149719_1634459591.jpg

As we moved away towards Ugborough Beacon looking back we could see all the way to Plymouth Sound.

149719_1634459626.jpg

We made our way towards Ugborough Beacon.

149719_1634459658.jpg

Passing Main Head which is the start of the spring/stream.

149719_1634459682.jpg

Ugborough Beacon isn’t the biggest Tor I have visited but it does have some interesting rock formations.

149719_1634459725.jpg

And some nice views.

149719_1634459755.jpg

I spotted a Kestrel out looking for lunch, I managed to get a shot but I really don’t have the right kit for these kinds of shots (I’m a landscaper not a wildlifer).

149719_1634459778.jpg

Anyway, it was now time to head off back to the car.

149719_1634459804.jpg

On the way back we saw some curious things, this water hole seemed to be a natural drain for the rainwater into the stream below.

149719_1634459829.jpg

We also passed this derelict building, not sure what it used to be though.

149719_1634459860.jpg

Finally we got back to the Moor Gate and the car.

149719_1634459886.jpg

We did see some Ponies on this trip though.

149719_1634459924.jpg

149719_1634459938.jpg

That’s all for this week folks. As always, comments welcome.

Tags:
Dartmoor
Ponies
Landscape and travel
Photowalk
Ugborough Devon

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Major Vulnerability Affects All Western Digital NAS Devices Running OS 3

Major Vulnerability Affects All Western Digital NAS Devices Running OS 3

Major Vulnerability Affects All Western Digital NAS Devices Running OS 3 2

Western Digital is still reeling from two different major exploits that were used to remotely wipe the hard drives of its My Book Live products, but the headache has not ended. Several other Western Digital NAS drives running its OS 3 also have a vulnerability that the company won’t fix.

A new report published by security journalist Brian Krebs found that Western Digital products running the company’s My Cloud OS3 software have a zero-day vulnerability that can only be fixed by upgrading to the company’s OS 5 (there is no OS 4).

Two researchers named Radek Domanski and Pedro Riberio originally planned to demonstrate the security flaw last year at a hacking competition, but Western Digital released OS 5 which patched out the bug they found before they could. That new update nullified their work because the competition required entries to work against the latest firmware supported by the targeted device.

The two still published their findings in the video below that documents how the two discovered a chain of weaknesses that allows an attacker to remotely update the vulnerable device’s software with a malicious backdoor using a low-privileged user account that has a blank password.

The problem can be solved by updating to OS 5, but not all devices that run OS 3 can be upgraded to OS 5, and not everyone who owns a device that runs OS 3 wants to upgrade because of changes that the company made to the user experience. Photographers in particular were negatively affected.

Not long after OS 5 was released, users began to complain that the upgrade to was causing major usability issues. In a report from MacWorld, some alleged that upgrading required the complete deletion of storage media and that numerous functions that were beloved and used by the community were missing. For example, some reported taht they could no longer access data via the desktop app, WebDAV, or remote dashboard nor were they able to organize the backups via WD SmartWare or WD Sync.

Major Vulnerability Affects All Western Digital NAS Devices Running OS 3 3

Additionally, OS 5 appeared to break numerous third-party apps that were developed for the system. According to MacWorld, the integration of cloud services from Google, Dropbox, One Drive, and Adobe were also eliminated.

Beyond these issues, photographers in particular reported issues with some who reported unending indexing for thumbnail generation that even froze the devices.

“I have EX2 Ultra 8TB about 1.2TB of data. It has been more than 24 hours indexing. What is going on?” one user reported.

“My fans have been running at 10k RPM solid since yesterday afternoon. I’m watching the HDD temps closely in case the fan craps out,” said another.

“Photography is my hobby. I am using HOME-NAS to store and backup my photos. So I have at least more than 40,000 photos on hand, .jpg, .psd, or .raw,” one user reported. “To be honest, I don’t need a thumbnail at all. I just want my photos to stay safe and I can reach them anywhere (of course with internet). But I don’t have an option to turn the thumbnail off. So now it seems that indexing would not stop, and My Cloud mobile app doesn’t work totally.”

For these reasons, many photographers urged each other not to upgrade from OS 3 to OS 5 because of the issues.

“The My Cloud OS 5 release is a major upgrade that comprehensively upgrades the security architecture of the My Cloud operating system. Like all major operating system upgrades, the upgrade from OS 3 to OS 5 introduced new functionality and retired some older features that were infrequently used or had security concerns. Since the initial release in October of 2020, we have released updates to My Cloud OS 5 every month to respond to customer feedback, address issues, and restore top-used functionality that was omitted from the original release,” a Western Digital representative told PetaPixel.

“To clarify, the upgrade from My Cloud OS 3 to OS 5 has never required complete deletion of storage media. In other cases, functionality is now provided in a different form or application; for instance, the WD Sync and SmartWare applications have been replaced with Acronis True Image for Western Digital, which offers backup and ransomware protection in a single application for Windows and Mac computers. We believe that My Cloud OS 5 offers the best and most secure personal cloud experience we’ve ever released and continue to recommend that all eligible OS 3 users upgrade as soon as possible.”

Western Digital says that the best fix is simply to upgrade to OS 5, which for many doesn’t feel like a solution since that operating system hurts them more than it helps. Unfortunately, Western Digital has openly stated that it has no plans to update OS 3 to fix the problem so that those who still enjoy the many features of that older operating system can also be protected.

If a device doesn’t support the upgrade, Western Digital recommends simply buying a newer system.

“We will not provide any further security updates to the My Cloud OS3 firmware,” the company has stated on a support page. “We strongly encourage moving to the My Cloud OS5 firmware. If your device is not eligible for upgrade to My Cloud OS 5, we recommend that you upgrade to one of our other My Cloud offerings that support My Cloud OS 5.”

PetaPixel reached out to NAS manufacturer Synology to ask if Western Digital’s approach to ending support for physical devices — like My Cloud Live or any device that cannot upgrade to OS 5 — was standard in the industry.

The short answer is no, it’s not a standard practice.

“Synology continues to support our NAS devices and DSM past the production life of any given model. The hardware is protected by a minimum two-year warranty, and we continue to offer technical support and DSM updates past the warranty period,” a Synology representative said.

“No matter what piece of tech users are looking to buy, they should always look at the security update guarantees from the vendor. Considering a company’s stance on security and seeing a history of consistent updates and follow through should be a part of everyone’s buying process.”

Western Digital’s NAS offerings were likely chosen over products from Synology due to a mix of brand recognition and the ease of use promised by the My Cloud platform. Synology’s system is more powerful and more easily customized, but it’s not generally seen to be as user-friendly. Clearly, there is a tradeoff though, as Western Digital has repeatedly shown that it will sunset hardware by not supporting it with software updates beyond the production life of the product.

For those who own a device running OS 3 and cannot or do not want to upgrade to OS 5, Domanski and Ribiro developed a free patch to keep the devices safe. Unfortunately, it will have to be reapplied each time the device is rebooted. The drives can also be kept safe by unplugging them from the internet.

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Western Digital Unveils SanDisk Professional Storage Solutions for Pro Creators

Western Digital Unveils SanDisk Professional Storage Solutions for Pro Creators

Western Digital Unveils SanDisk Professional Storage Solutions for Pro Creators 4

If you’re a content creator in need of professional-grade storage drives, Western Digital’s newly unveiled SanDisk Professional line of premium storage solutions is just for you.

Professional photographers and creatives across a wide range of industries are always working with data that’s in a perpetual state of motion. Whether working with photos, high-resolution videos, or illustrations, creatives need to save, transfer, offload, share, and archive their data. The new SanDisk Professional family of purpose-built drives, launched at Western Digital’s Flash Perspective earlier this week, are designed to offer high performance and reliability for all of these things.

Western Digital Unveils SanDisk Professional Storage Solutions for Pro Creators 5

“As a professional photographer, one of my biggest concerns is being able to deliver assets as promised,” says adventure photographer and filmmaker Lucas Gilman. “When I am traveling the globe looking for the right shots, I heavily rely on the best equipment to help me get the job done.

“I’ve spent many years perfecting my workflow and am constantly looking for new ways to improve it, which is why I am so excited about the new SanDisk Professional brand. The new portfolio is all about managing content that is constantly in motion and I believe it’s going to be a real game-changer for all kinds of creative professionals around the world.”

Western Digital Unveils SanDisk Professional Storage Solutions for Pro Creators 6

The new SanDisk® Professional line combines the legacies of the world-renown SanDisk consumer brand as well as the pro-oriented G-Technology™ brand, which has been the storage choice of Hollywood professionals for decades. The SanDisk Professional lineup now comprises 16 modular workflow products. Here’s a rundown:

PRO-CINEMA CFExpress VPG400 Memory Card

Western Digital Unveils SanDisk Professional Storage Solutions for Pro Creators 7

The PRO-CINEMA CFExpress VPG400 is a rugged, pro-grade CFExpress card that allows for video recording at a minimum speed of 400MB/s*.

PRO-READER Devices

Western Digital Unveils SanDisk Professional Storage Solutions for Pro Creators 8

Western Digital has announced four new PRO-READER devices that each pack a USB-C™ interface that allows for SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps data transfers. These drives are designed to support the most common camera media used for photographers and videographers, including CFast, CFExpress, RED MINI-MAG®, CF, microSD, and SD cards.

PRO-DOCK 4 Reader Docking Station

Western Digital Unveils SanDisk Professional Storage Solutions for Pro Creators 9

The PRO-DOCK 4 is a revolutionary new 4-bay reader docking station that provides a scalable solution for offloading data, especially when working with multiple cameras. The station allows creatives to simultaneously offload from four cards.

G-DRIVE™ Portable and Desktop Solutions

Western Digital Unveils SanDisk Professional Storage Solutions for Pro Creators 10

The G-Technology family of professional-grade products are now part of the SanDisk Professional stable. In addition to the existing line of ultra-rugged portable drives, desktop devices featuring Ultrastar® drives, and transportable RAID solutions, the SanDisk Professional portfolio also includes a new 4TB** G-DRIVE™ ArmorLock™ Encrypted NVMe™ SSD.

Western Digital Unveils SanDisk Professional Storage Solutions for Pro Creators 11

Western Digital Unveils SanDisk Professional Storage Solutions for Pro Creators 12

Availability

The SanDisk Professional portfolio is expected to begin rolling out this June. For more information on pricing and availability, you can visit SanDiskProfessional.com.


*For transfer speeds, 1MB/s = 1 megabyte per second. Based on internal testing; performance may vary depending on host device, usage conditions, drive capacity and other factors.

**1TB = 1 trillion bytes. Actual user capacity may vary. For RAID products, storage is based on RAID 0 mode.


This article was brought to you by Western Digital.

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Western Digital Launches SanDisk Professional Brand of Storage Products

Photo of SanDisk Professional storage

Professional photographers and video-makers have a new company to turn to for their premium storage solutions. Well, it’s actually an old company with a slightly new name. Called SanDisk Professional, the new brand was launched by parent company Western Digital yesterday alongside an array of new products.

The new SanDisk Professional brand and new products combine the roots of SanDisk’s consumer brand and its professional-grade G-Technology brand to create a new group of storage solutions designed to meet the needs of pro photographers and cinematographers.

“From producing the latest blockbuster film to capturing the moment at a destination wedding to managing business-critical content, the powerful SanDisk Professional portfolio is designed to deliver scalable, high-performance, reliable solutions across industries globally,” Western Digital said in a press announcement yesterday.

“Professional content is in constant motion. Content that’s captured or created needs to be saved, transferred, off-loaded, shared and archived. SanDisk Professional offers a range of purpose-built tools to harmonize every step of that process.”

Photo of SanDisk professional family of products

Here are a few highlights of the new professional storage products that Western Digital introduced under the new SanDisk Professional name.

PRO-CINEMA CFexpress VPG400
An all-new professional-grade, rugged CFexpress card for videographers and cinematographers needing premium, uninterrupted performance.

PRO-READER Series
Four new PRO-READER devices that feature a USB-C interface that supports SuperSpeed USB 10Gbs.

PRO-DOCK 4
A unique new 4-bay reader docking station that can bridge capture and ingest with a scalable offloading solution that saves time and money on multi-camera productions.

G-DRIVE ArmorLock Encrypted NVMe SSD 4TB
A new encrypted drive now comes in up to 4TB.

Of all the new SanDisk professional products, we think the PRO-READER card reader series might have the most appeal to professional photographers since they offer the increasingly common USB-C interface, which is used on Apple’s newer Mac computers including its MacBook Pro laptops, with SuperSpeed USB throughput at 10Gbs. The PRO-READER Multi Card from SanDisk Professional is the most versatile in the series with slots for CF, SD and MicroSD cards. For safely backing up and storing all your photos out in the field, the G-DRIVE ArmorLock SSD offers up to 4TB of storage. And with the ArmorLock technology, you don’t have to remember passwords; your smartphone serves as the key through your phone’s biometric authentication, which lets you access your content with the press of a button.

Learn more about all of these new SanDisk Professional storage solutions (and more) on the new SanDisk Professional website.

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One Photographer’s 3-Week Solo Trip Across the Western US

One Photographer's 3-Week Solo Trip Across the Western US

One Photographer's 3-Week Solo Trip Across the Western US 13

A travel photographer from Colorado took several weeks of traveling solo, living out of his car, and shooting to recharge and prepare for a career and life change.

Alex Armitage is a Denver-based travel and adventure photographer who recently took the plunge and left his University job of nearly 8 years to pursue YouTube and landscape photography as a full-time career.

Having started out as a photographer who was happy to shoot anything and everything, he first began to focus on the live music scene in Florida until he took a trip to Yosemite in 2012 and discovered his love for the “practice of landscape photography.” A few years later, when travel media became more popular on Instagram, Armitage found inspiration in seeing other photographers go out and share beautiful images, which gave him another push to travel and pursue this himself.

Armitage has been intently focusing on travel photography for the past four years and now, having left his university job and just returned home after a three-week-long solo shooting trip, can “confidently say there is no better feeling than waking up for sunrise, staying out late for sunset, and losing sleep photographing the Milky Way.”

One Photographer's 3-Week Solo Trip Across the Western US 14

Preparing for the Trip

The several-week-long trip Armitage took just recently wasn’t merely for just photographing landscapes and creating portfolio-worthy content for his work. For Armitage, the journey meant a lot more: it was an opportunity to mentally reset and have time to breathe, after overcoming certain personal changes in his life, and was also a chance to combine the trip with visiting his family.

The photographer was quite excited but also nervous about the trip ahead, he says. He worried he wouldn’t have everything he needed or that he would forget a specific camera charger. Although most things could be picked up en route, he didn’t want to find himself in the middle of the desert without the right Canon charger and miss out on the opportunities the landscape gives.

One Photographer's 3-Week Solo Trip Across the Western US 15
The trusted travel companion

As a meticulous person who tends to prepare “a bit too much,” which can be both a blessing and a curse, Armitage says that he spent far too much time figuring out what exactly he might need for the trip. He spent time researching advice and suggestions from other “van-life” sources, such as, “how do you wash dishes without wasting a bunch of water?” Turns out, the trick is to pack a spray bottle, filled with half of water and half of vinegar, which did a good job throughout the trip.

Armitage built a bed platform in his Toyota 4Runner that helps separate and house his equipment and personal belongings and also allows him to sleep on top of it. Using a YouTube guide from a photographer Nick Carver, Armitage followed the tutorial but intends to decide on a more permanent solution in the future to allow him to move into his SUV permanently.

Armitage doesn’t use a large kit for his photography — he packed a Canon R5 with Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM and Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens for his landscape photography work, in addition to a few accessories, such as Benro tripod, Wine Country Camera filter system, and one magnetic polarizing filter.

For filming his journey and the behind-the-scenes content, the photographer used a Fuji XT-4 with the Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens, a DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone, and a GoPro HERO8. All of his equipment comfortably fits into a hiking backpack, including the tripods, without forgetting the all-important chargers, cables, and external hard drives.

Driving Across the Country

Armitage didn’t set himself a particular destination goal besides heading west from his home in Colorado.  All practicalities aside, the photographer says that “the only goal was to film content, take photos, and enjoy the experience,” which meant committing to the trip and seeing what challenges and experiences it brings.

One Photographer's 3-Week Solo Trip Across the Western US 16
New Mexico Badlands
One Photographer's 3-Week Solo Trip Across the Western US 17
New Mexico

The photographer recalls: “I really wanted to leave myself open to simply explore wherever I was or learn where I wanted to go during the trip and thankfully I met numerous people along the way that made suggestions that completely shaped where I went,” including certain spots and locations he knew about but hadn’t necessarily planned to visit until he was reminded of them.

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Las Vegas

Armitage says he stopped by “too many locations” during his travels, but a few stand-out highlights include the rugged San Juan mountains in Colorado, the vast and dry Utah badlands, and the badlands of New Mexico. The relentless winds of the desert in the first week were equally as memorable.

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San Juan Mountains
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Model: Lillian Seibert | Utah Badlands
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Utah Badlands

Another unforgettable moment includes shooting the Milky Way at 4 in the morning, when suddenly a line of glowing dots began filling the sky, eventually reaching from one horizon to the other. This spooked the photographer but once he got service the next day, he confirmed it was actually Starlink satellites heading into orbit.

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Overall, Colorado and Utah have countless places to photograph and visit, the photographer discovered. The landscape drastically changes from one place to another, even if it’s just 50 miles away from the previous stop, which makes it a great journey for photographers who want to experience variety.

“One minute you’re in snow-covered mountains and the next you’re in the desert,” he says.

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San Juan Mountains
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Utah Badlands
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Utah Badlands
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Utah Badlands

Traveling and Living in a Car

Armitage says that, when it comes to traveling solo and living out of your car, the first question people ask is, “where do you shower and how do you use the bathroom?” He found it comparably easy to find places to shower and did that whenever he could, and the same goes for bathrooms. The majority of nights he slept on Bureau of Land Management land, which doesn’t actually have any toilets, but finding restrooms is not difficult if you plan ahead, he says.

The biggest challenge was actually trying to cook in the wind, which sometimes meant the photographer didn’t cook and instead ate whatever he could make without using any heat. The same goes for cell phone reception, which can be difficult to access at times, especially in smaller towns, and even though Armitage enjoys living off-grid from time to time, there are moments when you do need the reception to get certain things done.

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Overall, traveling solo was not something Armitage was concerned about, and he admits that his experience may strongly differ from what others go through because “this is a privilege of being a white male,” and throughout his trip, he met people who had to take additional precautionary measures to ensure their safety “which is a bit unfortunate but also reality.”

“Being alone for me is one of the best ways to clear my head and while it can obviously get lonely, connections are not far away if you ever need them,” Armitage says. “I did meet a new friend along the way and we spent quite a bit of time together exploring new spots while both living in our vehicles. One of the beauties of just finding random spots to sleep and being out there is that you may run into like-minded people that you instantly have a connection with.”

To compartmentalize his own experiences, Armitage has also endeavored on brief YouTube series where he intends to explore this journey of traveling and living out of his SUV, not just as a landscape photographer, but also as a reflective person who soaks in this fully immersive experience, with its ups and downs.

With the first released episode in the series, the photographer hopes that viewers will find something to take away from his documentary-style content and invites others to join in on the journey from the comfort of their screens, whether that is seeing picturesque and raw landscapes or the behind-the-scenes of what it’s like living the “van-life” as a photographer.

Looking Back on the Experience

The best advice is to prepare for a long trip and then take a short one, not far away from home,” Armitage recommends. Going on a weekend trip will allow cautious adventure-seeking photographers to learn what might be missing or what needs to be adapted to for a long journey in the future. 

Equally, a good way to learn and adapt is to just go for it, he says. Going on adventurous trips like these, photographers might unlock a burning desire to incorporate travel in their future lives because “you can only prepare so much and getting out there, waking up for that first sunrise by stepping out of your vehicle, you might not ever want to wake up in a bedroom again.”

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In regards to photography, Armitage discovered an even bigger fondness for his telephoto lens during this trip, even though such a long lens is not traditionally the first choice for landscapes. The majority of photos taken during the trip were with this lens, and Armitage found it to be a great tool for photographing sunrises and sunsets and says that going forward this may become his favorite lens for landscape photography.

As for his personal reflections from the trip, Armitage admits that he gained a lot as a person but it is difficult to put it all into words:

Introspection and reflection come heavily attached to disconnecting yourself from the world and spending time appreciating the beauty that surrounds us. As a photographer – no, as a human, I’m always trying to grow from my experiences. My life hit a big reset button and this trip helped me find where I wanted to land when the dust settled around the events in my life. The fact that I can combine the therapy of being out in nature with my passion for photography isn’t a bad place to start.

More of Armitage’s work can be found on his website or his Instagram page.


Image credits: All images by Alex Armitage and used with permission.

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